Lung cancer is made up of a group of abnormal cells that grow uncontrollably. It is usually originated from cells that line the lower respiratory tract of the lungs (National Cancer Centre Singapore, n.d.; BMJ Best Practice, 2016). Lung cancers can be further divided into two main histologic types, which are the small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Non-small cell lung cancer is more common compared to the small cell lung cancer. (National Cancer Centre Singapore, n.d.). It is important to tell between two main subtypes of lung cancers as different treatment will be needed as well as the different methods of prognosis (BMJ Best Practice, 2016; E Midthun, 2015).
During the initial and early stage of lung cancer, it is known to be asymptomatic or even symptomless. When the symptoms arise, the patient might have an advanced stage of cancers or the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body. Some of the most common symptoms of lung cancers are persistent cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing up blood and weight loss (National Cancer Centre Singapore, n.d.; E Midthun, 2015).
Cancer is the leading cause of death in the world. Among that, lung cancer accounts for 1.59 million deaths (World Health Organization, 2015). According to the National Cancer Centre Singapore, there are approximately 1370 people in Singapore annually diagnosed with lung cancer from 2010 to 2014. Most of patients are older than 40 years of age. In Singapore, it is the second most common cause of death in males and third in females (National Cancer Centre Singapore, n.d.).
The primary cause of lung cancers would be cigarettes smoking. As the duration of exposure and number of cigarettes smoked increases, the risk of lung cancer also increases (E Midthun, 2015). In spite of the strong correlation between smoking and lung cancer, in Singapore, more than one-quarter of lung cancer cases occur in those who have no experience of smoking nor exposure to smoke (National Cancer Centre Singapore, n.d.). Besides that, lung cancer also relates to an increased exposure of environmental toxins or workplace chemicals, for instance second-hand smoke, asbestos and metals (E Midthun, 2015).
There is no definite way to prevent lung cancer. However, the risk could be reduced through smoking cessation or avoiding active and secondary tobacco smoke exposure (National Cancer Centre Singapore, n.d.; BMJ Best Practice, 2016). Smokers can join the smoking cessation programmes to get help. To reduce the mortality of lung cancer can also be done through early detection and by receiving treatment at the earliest stage possible (World Health Organization, 2015). Through the National Lung Screening Trial, National Cancer Institute has found out that there is a total 20% of mortality reduction when annual low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening was done to individuals at high risks (Suh et al., 2013).
In 2013, in order to reduce upto 25% of the overall mortality of non-communicable diseases such as cancers and cardiovascular diseases by 2025, World Health Organization (WHO) has launched the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases 2013 – 2020 (World Health Organization, 2015). In the action plan, WHO has proposed that the people should be warned about the hazards of smoking through mass media campaigns. WHO has also suggested that the government shall ban all forms of advertisements, promotions and sponsorships related to tobacco and should increase the taxes on tobacco products in order to reduce its affordability (World Health Organization, 2013). With these, WHO aims to reduce 30% of the smoking prevalence and thus reduce the total premature deaths (World Health Organization, 2015).
- National Cancer Centre Singapore, n.d. Lung Cancer. [online] Available at: https://www.nccs.com.sg/PatientCare/WhatisCancer/TypesofCancer/Pages/Lung-Cancer.aspx?p=http%3a//shintersp.shses.shs.com.sg%3a93/PatientCare#Diagnosis [Accessed 20 January 2017]
- BMJ Best Practice, 2016. Non-small cell lung cancer. [online] Available at: http://bestpractice.bmj.com/best-practice/monograph/1082.html [Accessed 20 January 2017]
- E Midthun, D., 2015. Overview of the risk factors, pathology, and clinical manifestations of lung cancer. [online] UpToDate. Available at: http://www.uptodate.com/contents/overview-of-the-risk-factors-pathology-and-clinical-manifestations-of-lung-cancer?source=search_result&search=lung%20cancer&selectedTitle=1~150 [Accessed 21 January 2017].
- World Health Organization, 2015. Cancer. [online] Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/ [Accessed 22 January 2017].
- Suh, R., Abtin, F., Genshaft, S., Brown, K. and Gutierrez, A., 2013. Lung Cancer Screening. Seminars in Interventional Radiology, 30(02), pp.114-120.
- World Health Organization, 2013. Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases 2013 – 2020. [online] Available at: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/94384/1/9789241506236_eng.pdf?ua=1 [Accessed 22 January 2017].